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#OnTourWithAwedana : Rocks of Fear – Pikworo Slave Camp (Paga, Ghana)

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The sight and the overall experience of Pikworo Slave Camp take away all doubts about the veracity and reality of the slave trade in Africa. The presence of empirical evidence in the form of relics is enough to disabuse all doubting minds. Perhaps the cliché, “seeing is believing” should be the emphasis here. 

Pikworo Slave Camp is geographically situated approximately 3 KM West of Paga in the Upper East region of Ghana.  It’s located in a village called ‘Nania’. The camp is one of the few tourist sites in Africa with remarkable routes of historic relevance and is known in history as the hoarding, auctioning, and transmission point of slaves. It acted as a transit camp for the slave trade. Slaves were held hostage in the Pikworo slave camp before being transferred to Salaga in the Northern Region. In short, it acted as an intermediary between slave traders.

Legend has it that, the Pikworo Slave Camp was founded by a brave hunter and farmer. The village (Nania) was then developed into a trading center for the Hausa, Mossi, and Zambrama traders where their exchange activities took place.

The story of the slave trade sound is really gory sometimes. However, coming face to face with the facts of history gives a refreshing feeling of how far we have come as humans in our very existence. It’s sometimes incomprehensible and shocking how the purpose of a fully-fleshed human being could be altered and converted to the extent of being a slave. But the evidence available is more factual than fiction.

Centuries back, the slave trade was a very lucrative business activity and because of its dominant nature, it enriched slave masters and other people of higher ranks in the slave market. Nania became the first stopover and an auction market for slaves captured in surrounding lands as well as those brought from the Sahara. It was situated in a very rocky area hence the name ‘Pikworo’ which means ‘rocks of fear’. The rocky nature of the place largely defined the living conditions of the slaves in the camp. 

Life in the camp could best be described as rude and crude. Unlike the luxuries we enjoy today, slaves captured and sent to Nania had to be tied against trees and rocks to sleep. They ground cereals on rocks. They prepared food on rocks. They ate from holes created on rocks and drank from a nondrying opening in rocks.

They walked barefooted and experienced inhuman treatments as penalties for wrongdoing or non-compliance with directives. For instance, there was a site of the camp dedicated to punishing slaves where they were tied to a rock and made to watch the sun.
Dead slaves were buried in groups in a single hole dug around the camp and covered with a medium-sized rock placed on top of the grave as an epitaph to indicate the site as a burial ground for the dead. 

One interesting aspect about the stopover of slaves at Nania was that, despite the harsh conditions they faced, slaves had the chance of producing music with stones used to hit the rocks in a rhythmic manner, creating a pleasant sound with some of the slaves dancing to the tune. In all it won’t be wrong to say slaves in Pikworo slave camp lived “rocky” lives since almost every aspect of their lives was hinged on rocks.

Visiting the slave camp gives a lot of flashbacks and touching memories to behold-Memories that indicate the actual toil of our forefathers and some of the circumstances they faced and memories that give you insights towards making the world a better place. Until you visit the ‘Pikworo’ slave camp, you’ll always be tempted to liken the storylines of “12 years a slave” to “Tom and Jerry”.The former is a real-life issue and the latter is fiction. Don’t dwell in doubts for the rest of your life. Spare a moment, explore and reconnect with the past: it’s a priceless experience.
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Story by: Bobi Awedana Herty/thesavannaonline

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The novelty of being a Builsa

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Who are the Bulsa Ethnic Group?

Who are the Builsa Ethnic Group? A Deep Dive into the History and Culture.

The Builsa ethnic group, residing in the north-central region of Ghana, occupies a 2,000 square kilometre area. With a rich history and a distinct cultural identity, the Builsa people have thrived as farmers, cultivating crops such as millet, beans, and groundnuts. They also engage in various crafts, including pottery, wooden stools, decorative hoe and axe handles, and woven grass baskets and hats. This comprehensive exploration will delve into their history, traditions, and unique characteristics.

Builsa Warriors
Builsa Warriors In Accra

Early History and Origins

The origins of this unique ethnic group can be traced back to ancient times, as they have inhabited the region for centuries. Although archaeological excavations have yet to occur within the Builsa districts, research data from other parts of Northern Ghana provides insights into the region’s early history. As the Sahara gradually became drier in the millenniums before Christ (BC), making it increasingly challenging for human habitation, people sought new areas to settle, eventually leading to the establishment of communities in the present-day territory.

The Builsa Identity and Language

Distinct from their neighbouring groups, the Builsa people have developed a unique cultural identity. Central to their identity is their language, Buli. The Buli language serves as a crucial means of communication within the community and reflects the rich heritage of the Builsa people. While the Builsa language has its roots in the Niger-Congo language family, it has evolved through interactions with other neighbouring languages. Preserving the Buli language plays a vital role in maintaining the cultural fabric of the people.

Bulsa Musicians
Builsa Musicians

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

The 19th century marked a significant period in the history of the Builsa people as they faced the threat of the slave raider Babatu. Despite the immense challenges, the Builsa community displayed remarkable resilience and stood against Babatu, successfully repelling his attacks. This pivotal event in their history is commemorated to this day through an elaborate festival celebrated just before Christmas. The festival serves as a testament to the courage and determination in defending their land and way of life.

A Bulsa Warrior
A Builsa Warrior

Traditional Builsa Architecture

The traditional shelter, known as a compound, represents an integral part of the community’s architecture. Comprising a combination of round and rectangular rooms, the compound also features courtyards and animal enclosures. The construction materials primarily consist of mud, clay, and sand. The roofs of the rooms may vary, with some being flat and made of the same mixture as the walls, while others take on a conical shape constructed using grass. However, these structures have a limited lifespan and often collapse during heavy rains, requiring constant maintenance and rebuilding.

Social Structure and Family Units

Within the Builsa community, compounds serve as dwelling places for extended family units. Each compound typically consists of men who share a typical father or grandfather. Smaller family units, comprising around seven to ten individuals, coexist within the compound. The sizes of compounds can vary significantly, with some accommodating over 40 people while others remain relatively small. The distance between compounds is generally around three-quarters of a mile, maintaining a sense of community while providing privacy and individuality.

The Role of the Social Shelter

In addition to the compounds, the Builsa community utilizes an open-side grass-roofed shelter outside the compound walls. This social shelter holds immense significance as a gathering place for the entire family. It serves as a meeting point for various subsections of the family, including young mothers, children, older women, and men, throughout the day. Moreover, this traditional space serves as a welcoming area for visitors, fostering social interactions and strengthening community ties.

Influences of Christianity

Throughout the colonial period, Christianity made its way into the Builsa community. In 1926, the Roman Catholic Church established the parish of Wiaga, bringing with it a clinic that continues to serve the Bulsa people. Additionally, a Presbyterian mission opened in 1957, further contributing to the religious landscape of the community. These religious influences have added another layer to the cultural tapestry of the Bulsa ethnic group, blending traditional practices with Christian beliefs.

Celebrating Builsa Culture: Festivals and Traditions

The community cherishes its vibrant culture, exemplified through various festivals and traditions. One such celebration is the Feok Festival, held annually in Sandema. This event brings together the community to honor their history, customs, and achievements. It serves as a platform for showcasing traditional dances, music, and art, allowing the Bulsa people to express their cultural identity and pass down their traditions to future generations.

Education and Development

In recent years, efforts have been made to enhance education and promote development within the Bulsa community. Established educational institutions provide opportunities for young Bulsa individuals to acquire knowledge and skills. These initiatives aim to empower the community, fostering social and economic progress. Additionally, organizations and government initiatives have focused on infrastructure development, healthcare services, and agricultural advancements, contributing to the thriving of the Bulsa ethnic group.

Conclusion

The Builsa ethnic group stands as a testament to the endurance and resilience of a community rooted in history and tradition. From their early origins to triumphs against adversity, the Builsa people have maintained a strong cultural identity through language, architecture, and customs. Celebrating their heritage through festivals and embracing elements of Christianity, the Builsa community continues to evolve while preserving the essence of their rich cultural tapestry. As efforts for education and development forge ahead, the future of the Builsa ethnic group holds promise, ensuring the preservation and growth of their unique identity for generations to come.

Additional Information: The article focuses on the history, culture, architecture, social structure, religious influences, festivals, and development initiatives within the Bulsa ethnic group. By providing a comprehensive overview of these aspects, it highlights the distinctiveness and resilience of the community. The article also emphasizes the importance of preserving the Bulsa language and traditions while embracing opportunities for progress and development. Through a unique blend of historical research and cultural exploration, this article is a valuable resource for individuals seeking to understand and appreciate the Bulsa ethnic group.

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Top Tourist Sites in Northern Ghana: Discover the Hidden Gems

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Top Tourist Sites in Northern Ghana

Top Tourist Sites in Northern Ghana: Discover the Hidden Gems

Today, we explore the Top Tourist Sites of Northern Ghana. Are you looking to explore the rich cultural heritage and natural wonders of Ghana? Look no further than the northern part of the country. With its fascinating history, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant traditions, Northern Ghana has become a magnet for tourists from around the world. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through the top tourist sites in the region, unveiling the hidden gems that make it a must-visit destination.

Larabanga Mosque: A Testament to Time

Larabanga Mosque

One of the oldest mosques in Africa, the Larabanga Mosque is a true architectural marvel. Located in Northern Ghana, it was built-in the year 1421. This historic site has stood the test of time, with its core foundation remaining intact and unchanged. While the mosque has undergone restoration and architectural works over the centuries, its original essence has been preserved. As you step foot into Larabanga, you will be captivated by the spiritual aura that surrounds this sacred place.

Mole National Park: Where Wildlife Thrives

Mole National Park

This arguably the most popular tourist site in Northern Ghana.

For nature enthusiasts, a visit to Mole National Park is a must. This expansive wildlife sanctuary is home to a diverse range of species, making it a paradise for animal lovers. As you explore the park, you will encounter majestic African bush elephants, graceful antelopes, and a myriad of other fascinating creatures. The park also boasts a rich variety of tree species, adding to its natural beauty. Whether you are embarking on a thrilling safari or indulging in birdwatching, Mole National Park promises to leave you awestruck.

Daboya: A Town of History and Craftsmanship

Daboya

A trip to Northern Ghana can be likened to a Time Travel experience. Step back in time as you visit Daboya, a town steeped in history and craftsmanship. Once renowned for its salt mining industry, Daboya was a thriving commercial hub. Today, while the salt market has declined, the town still preserves its cultural heritage through its hand-woven traditional smocks. As you wander through the streets of Daboya, you will witness the intricate artistry of the locals, who continue to weave these beautiful garments. With its rich history and unique craftsmanship, Daboya has the potential to become a major tourist destination in Ghana.

The Mystic Stone: A Divine Wonder

The Mystic Stone

Many associate mysticisms with Northern Ghana, this particular site, lends credence to this belief. Located near Damongo, the Mystic Stone holds a mystical allure that draws visitors from far and wide. This enigmatic stone is believed to possess divine powers, as it has remained in the same spot for centuries, defying all attempts to move it. The stone serves as a place of worship for the local community, who come here to seek blessings from their ancestors. As you stand in the presence of the Mystic Stone, you will feel a sense of reverence and awe, connecting with the ancient traditions of the region.

Gbele Game Reserve: A Wildlife Haven

Gbele Game Reserve

The very obscure region of Northern Ghana has something to offer visitors as well. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at Gbele Game Reserve. Nestled in the Upper West region of Ghana, this wildlife reserve boasts an incredible array of animals and birds. From antelopes and warthogs to monkeys and baboons, the reserve is teeming with life. The open savannah woodland provides a unique backdrop for your adventure, as you embark on nature hikes and birdwatching expeditions. For a truly unforgettable experience, spend a day at the reserve, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the wild.

Wa Naa’s Palace: A Historical Marvel

Wa Naa’s Palace

To experience the unique architecture of Northern Ghana, a trip to Wa is necessary. Journey into the heart of Wa, the regional capital of the Upper West region, and discover the majestic Wa Naa’s Palace. This historic palace, built in the early 19th century, is a testament to the rich heritage of the Wala people. Its Sudanese mud-brick architectural style stands as a symbol of protection against the slave traders of the past. As you explore the palace, you will be transported back in time, witnessing the grandeur of the royal home and the final resting place of former kings. The Wa Naa’s Palace is a must-visit for history buffs and culture enthusiasts alike.

Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary: Where Nature Flourishes

Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary

Experience the wonders of the animal kingdom at the Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary. Located along the Black Volta River, this sanctuary is home to a thriving population of hippos, as well as a diverse range of wildlife. Hop on a boat and cruise along the river, getting up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. The sanctuary also offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, as you interact with the friendly townsfolk and partake in traditional festivities. A visit to the Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary is an adventure you won’t want to miss.

Paga Crocodile Pond: Where Humans and Crocodiles Coexist

Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary

In the town of Paga, a fascinating relationship exists between humans and crocodiles. The Paga Crocodile Pond is a place where these fearsome reptiles live in harmony with the local community. Visitors can marvel at the sight of crocodiles basking in the sun and even pose for photos beside them. The spiritual connection between the people of Paga and their crocodile companions is believed to be rooted in the presence of ancestral spirits. This extraordinary bond has turned Paga Crocodile Pond into a unique tourist attraction, drawing curious travelers from all corners of the globe.

Tongo Rocks and Tengzug Shrines: Ancient Wonders

Tongo Rocks and Tengzug Shrines

Tongo, the capital of the Talensi-Nandam District, holds two hidden treasures: Tongo Rocks and Tengzug Shrines. The Tongo Rocks, also known as the Whispering Rocks, are a series of fascinating rock formations that defy gravity. Their mysterious arrangement and the whistling sounds they produce during the harmattan season make them a sight to behold. At the top of the rocks, you will discover the ancient Tengzug Shrine, a place of religious significance for the local community. Witness age-old rituals and immerse yourself in the rich traditions of the Talensis people. The Tongo Rocks and Tengzug Shrines offer a glimpse into Ghana’s ancient past.

Conclusion: Uncovering the Treasures of Northern Ghana

As you delve into the top tourist sites of Northern Ghana, you will be rewarded with a wealth of natural wonders, cultural heritage, and historical marvels. From the mystical Larabanga Mosque to the breathtaking landscapes of Mole National Park, the region offers a diverse range of experiences for every traveler. Whether you are seeking adventure, tranquility, or a deeper connection with Ghana’s rich traditions, Northern Ghana has it all. Embark on a journey of discovery and uncover the hidden gems that make this region a true treasure trove.

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Innovative ExGlo Foundation Sparks Positive Change In 2 Towns

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ExGlo Foundation

ExGlo Foundation shines Bright.

In a spirit of giving and teaching how to fish, ExGlo Foundation once again stepped out into the regions. This time around, the beneficiaries were the Tamale Girls Senior High School in the Northern Region & Srafa D/A Basic School/community, in the Central Region. As an organization operating on the principle of meeting the real needs of people, the activities in these two regions were based on a needs assessment conducted earlier in the year.

ExGlo Foundation has previously been involved in paying school fees for students from deprived communities, donating school supplies such as tables and chairs for staff and students, health screenings and talks, career guidance, and equipment for processing raw materials such as shea nuts, among other things. The foundation continues to strive in diversifying its impact projects and supporting livelihood ventures.

Excited Students welcome ExGlo Foundation

ExGlo Foundation in Tamale

The needs assessment found that young girls in Tamale had a high tendency to start their own businesses after high school when they are not able to continue their education. However, with little to no skill acquisition, this desire did not always materialize for people who lacked financial resources. ExGlo Foundation was there to fill that hole by teaching these girls for free.

A Student of Tamale Girls SHS exhibit her product

ExGlo Foundation in Srafa

The situation for the Srafa community was different yet precarious. In a farming community, girls unable to pursue higher education join their parents on the farms to support themselves and their families; and given that farming is a seasonal occupation, the women become idle when the season is over. With most women being housewives, skills acquisition could put them on the path equip to financial freedom.

The Goodies ExGlo Foundation delivered

The ExGlo Foundation team visited these two regions on different dates; on the 12th of November 2022, students of Tamale Girls Senior High School received their skills training in Liquid Soap and Bead making.

The ExGlo team later travelled to the Central region on the 18th of November 2022 to visit the Srafa Community. The visitation was in 2 phases. The first phase was the donation of some essential needs of their basic school to facilitate learning as well as the provision of materials to enhance good menstrual hygiene. Items donated to the school included markerboards, sanitary pads, towels, soaps, African print cloths (to cover themselves with it in the washroom when changing), dozens of panties and a cupboard was delivered.

Pupils of Srafa D/A & ExGlo Foundation

menstrual hygiene items can be kept. ExGlo foundation also repaired the spoilt hand wash basin in the washrooms and fixed the markerboards as well.

The second phase involved the entire community, but primarily the women. They were taught how to make shampoo, liquid soap, and pastries, which was a huge success. The women were equipped with these skills to help them generate extra income to support themselves and their families.

This year’s Skills Development Training was sponsored by St John’s Hospital and Fertility Centre, Tantra Hill roundabout, as part of their corporate social responsibility, Best Western Premier, Accra Airport Hotel, and other benevolent people, ExGlo once again moved to impact lives. Special thanks to all who supported making sure these two programs were a success, especially Mr Michael Sandow Ali (the chairman of the board), Mr Abeiku Aggrey Santana, Prof. Joshua Y. Abor, Prof. Mrs Vera Fiador, and other family & friends.

Despite targeting the Central Region, Northern Region, Upper East Region, and Upper West Region for the Skills Development Training of 2022, ExGlo had to limit the number of locations to 2 due to financial constraints. However, the organization continues to seek support from the general public, other NGOs, and organizations to help execute this cause and reach out to more beneficiaries.

ExGlo has been dedicated to ensuring that vulnerable people in the rural areas of Ghana, especially the Central Region, Upper East, Upper West, and Northern Regions, enjoy access to decent education, healthcare, and sustainable livelihood projects to improve their lives. This mantle it has carried since 2012 has always been timely and ingenious.

This year’s Skills Development Program was coordinated and led by Ms. Nancy Abena Manko, the project manager for the foundation, with oversight provided by the Executive Director, Dr. Patience Aseweh Abor.

Volunteers for this year’s projects were;

Ms.Priscilla Wiah

Ms. Hannah Ampomah

Ms.Winifred Bakari Soale

Ms. Rahama Issahaku

Ms.Jennifer Yaa Andorful Wilson

Nana Tawiah Gaisie

Mr. Kwesi Ohene-Djan

Mr.Samuel Quansah

Mr. Moses Quarshie

Ms. Alberta Koffuah

For support, donate, or seek further information, please contact;

infoexglo@gmail.com

0264234016/0245581612

www.exglo.org

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